Govt urged to assist ECRL workers, restore environment following project cancellation

TN Alagesh

BENTONG: The government has been urged to look into the welfare of local workers who lost their income and carry out mitigation measures on abandoned construction sites of the cancelled the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project. Ketari assemblyman Young Syefura Othman said the cancellation of the ECRL project would affect some 2,000 workers who lost their jobs and source of income. She said of the total, over 1,000 workers comprise Malaysians and locals from Bentong. “The government should look into the welfare of the local workers who are affected by the cancellation of ECRL including ensuring they are properly compensated and receive assistance to secure new jobs,” said the DAP leader in a statement today. She said at several sites like Genting and Bentong, the ECRL project progress had already reached between 13 and 14 percent. “Trees were cut down, land cleared and hills dug for rail works and tunnels. If these construction sites are abandoned after the cancellation, it will cause adverse effects to the environment and may result disasters in the future. “The government must ensure that the contractor or any other parties conduct immediate mitigation and rehabilitation works on the abandoned construction sites. “The existing construction sites are located in critical areas in Bentong therefore it is a concern if any disasters occur during the east coast monsoon phase,” she said. She said there were several important measures to be taken especially those concerning the economy, social and environment impact. “The (ECRL project’s) cancellation is timely due to its extremely high cost and the financial burden currently faced by the government,” she said. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, during his official visit to China, announced the cancellation of ECRL and construction of two gas pipelines in Sabah, saying the projects could not go on due to Malaysia’s financial woes. Dr Mahathir said he had conveyed the decision to the Chinese government and that it understood the problems faced by Malaysia. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd